Tag Archives: Carnival

A Day at the Jersey Shore

The work where I work is finally winding down after three fairly brutal months of very long days. Today is my second day off since January 16, yet I can’t shake the feeling, sitting here right now, that I’m losing money. With only a couple of paychecks left before I hit the road again, clocking as many hours before I’m laid off is imperative, especially with gas prices climbing the way they are. I’m sure many of you have also been aghast these recent mornings upon seeing how much gas has spiked from the day previous. For me, petro is… Continue Reading

Beautiful Freaks

Olde City Sideshow co-founder Danny Borneo says sideshows are reasserting themselves. Olde City, Philadelphia – During intermission, Danny Borneo, co-founder of the Olde City Sideshow, a neo-vaudevillian variety hour, steps outside to smoke a cigarette. The show has returned to Philly, performing at National Mechanics restaurant, housed inside a former bank that was built more than 200 years ago by William Strickland, in his day a pioneer of Greek revivalist architecture. On stage, Borneo and his three cohorts – Candy Mayhem, Reggie Bugmuncher and other show co-founder Martin Ling the Suicide King – had performed a variety of cringe-inducing skits,… Continue Reading

General Happenings at The Feral Scribe

Spooner, WI Today is Labor Day, which for many of us spells the end of summer. School begins, vacations end and we begin prepping ourselves for the trappings of winter. I’m spending the day in Madison, WI, waiting for repairs to be made on Purple Thunder, my trusty van that appears to have a rogue wire grounding out somewhere. In the last three weeks I’ve had to replace a battery that was less than a year old, as well as a fuel pump that fizzled out. I was on my way back to Philadelphia when my brake lights, blinkers and… Continue Reading

My Last Days with the Carnival

Bangor, WI, wasn’t only the last spot I worked before jumping off the carnival, it also has the distinction of being one of the creepiest cities I’ve ever visited. Technically, it’s a village, with an alleged 1,400 residents, all of whom seem never to leave their homes. Day and night its streets were virtually unpeopled. There was no bustle. No commotion. No cacophony of sound suggesting the presence of sentient beings. Its three-block business district lay largely vacant, with the exception of an antique shop, four taverns and a bowling alley. On occasion you’d spy a pedestrian. One lady I… Continue Reading

Meet the Carnies

Thank you to everyone who has followed my adventures this summer. The Carnie Chronicles have generated substantial interest. It was a pleasure and honor to work alongside these great and fascinating people, all of whom I consider friends. I’ve been gone only two days and already I miss them dearly. I hope they find these words I’ve written about them a faithful and accurate snapshot of their summer 2010. Who’d have thunk that I’d love being a carnie? Life is a carnival, indeed. « Previous Next » /* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12Continue Reading

The Boss Ladies Angered By My Story

A terrible thing happened in Spooner: the boss ladies didn’t like the article I wrote for Isthmus. Except for Liz, who never made her opinion known. Personally, I don’t think she gives a shit either way. Like Harley, she’s a straight shooter. Tells it like she sees it. No kid gloves. Crass and to the point. Conversely, the others are more sensitive, their nerves more easily unsettled. To say they didn’t like the article woefully understates their outright rejection of it. I was at McDonald’s when Ann called that Saturday morning, all but demanding I hightail to Corina’s trailer.… Continue Reading

Rumors, Time and Drunken Dramas

Time with the carnival doesn’t pass like time in regular life, but more like it does in rehab or other institutional settings. Everything is accelerated, the good times, the dramas, the chill moments and other shenanigans. Missing an hour can feel like missing an entire day. A simple walk to the store can be fraught with possibility. In the course of 24 hours you can fall in love and have your heartbroken. Alliances, friendships, romances are ever-shifting as time itself ebbs and flows to an irregular rhythm. Though our days are governed by a routine – packing up the bunks… Continue Reading

It Was One Helluva Weekend

What makes a spot bad or good? Proximity to things – bars, stores, laundry mats. County fairs tend to be self-contained, with the local 4-H chapters selling burgers and ice cream, as well as food vendors other than those provided by the family I work for. Some spots, like in Wales, are so far out that the nearest gas station is close to a mile away with nothing but the rides and bunks on-site. The best spots are in the hearts of cities and towns, like Spooner in far northern Wisconsin, which last week celebrated 100 years of existence. The… Continue Reading

Sex Seekers, Sex Bans and Near Death Experiences

Carnies bridge jumping in Spooner, WI. Yesterday we decamped Black River Falls, tearing down our bunkhouses in the rain. Having come off a five-day spot, and without a full day off since July 3, everyone’s in a fairly foul mood. Making matters worse is Sam, our suspected pill-popper who now openly crushes and snorts her opiates. The girl has a black cloud over her, which she brought with her today when she rode with us for the three-hour haul to Spooner. After Sam decided to hop in our truck to hang with Black Nate, Jeremy jumped ship to ride with… Continue Reading

The Festering Tensions of Carnival Life

Last weekend in Waunakee, Flo, the Romanian orphan, was placed with me on the Fun Slide. He worked the top of the slide, helping the kids onto the gunnysacks and ensuring the long line kept moving. I worked the bottom, taking tickets and dealing with parents. I’ve written previously of how Flo talks incessantly, often about nothing, so before the carnival opened I stressed to him that under no circumstances was he allowed to leave the top of the slide. Throughout the day, whenever he needed something, he’d begin miming messages to me, making ridiculous gestures until I finally motioned… Continue Reading
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